Abandonment

Going through a collection of images that is up to four decades old has been interesting. Not so much for the images as the response they generate from others.

When I post an image from the past onto a related Facebook page it encourages people to compare and contrast a particular scene or atmosphere with today. Nostalgia of course is pervasive and some people will compare the present poorly against the past.

A little rarer but still present are people who look back on the past as not a good place, perhaps they were going through some bad things at the time.

I cannot control the narrative or response to a particular image but I can present a variety of images that show some of the less than ideal realities of the time. This abandoned and burn out car is on the newly redeveloped linear park near Haydock, Merseyside. At the time the earth movers had reformed the landscape to be a place for enjoyment and relaxation. It was also a convenient place for some to dispose of things that were no longer useful.

Taken in approx 1977 on a Lubitel II TLR camera.

CB Radio in the 1970s

Whilst still at school I worked on Saturday mornings at Fishwicks in Haydock. This was a camera store and I served customers at the counter. This chap also had a part time job there and we got on well as we were both into the analogue technology of the time.

After work I went round to see his Citizens Band radio setup and I took a few frames.  CB was the social network of the day, a chance to chat to friends in the area or talk to passing traffic, usually lorries (not usually in Convoy). In the days when British Telecom had a monopoly on telephones it must have been very liberating to talk as long as you wanted without per minute charges.

Like Facebook there was an etiquette to using the equipment, moving chat to different channels and not interrupting people etc. I never got into CB myself but liked the idea.

Rig confirmed to be a Colt 320 FM “Black Shadow SSB”, many thanks to the Facebook community for the details.

35mm Ilford HP5 film, 400ASA.

As a 14 year old

An image from my very first self processed roll of film, possibly the first film I used in my Zenith E as I took up photography as a 14 year old schoolboy.

Not a particularly striking image but it does show my interest in detail and quiet scenes. Now that I have digitized a reasonable number of images for the site I’m starting to see patterns and themes reoccurring throughout my work. The accepted wisdom is that a photographer improves over time but I’m not so sure now, there are images the 14,15 or 16 year old me had taken that I feel I would not want to change even a little bit.

The Wasteland

No, not a shot of a failed Mars Lander.

Abandoned carcass of a black and white valve TV set, possible early 1960s vintage. Photo approx 1976/7. Taken in St.Helens on some wasteland, possibly after some street demolition. This shot reminded me that I used to enjoy taking the backs off old TVs to poke around and see how they worked, surprised I’m still alive thinking about it now.

Read moreThe Wasteland

Ray French

Friday 21st April 1978, quite a busy day for me, shortly after taking the class pictures in the quad at Cowley boys school I photographed Ray French demonstrating rugby techniques. This was for a book he was writing on the subject.

Mr French was my English teacher (not to be confused with my French teacher who was Irish ). Before being a teacher Ray French was a top level rugby player (both codes) as well as subsequent work as a BBC radio commentator for the sport. He has a wikipedia page here.

Other pictures from this session were to be my first published work in book form, my only previous published work being a news item in the local paper.

Unofficial 5th form class photo 5W Friday 21st April 1978 12:10am

Unofficial class photo made the day after we were given our O level exam timetable. One last bit of fun before we had to get serious. This is not my class, you can see that one which was taken first here: Form 5L You will notice that a few lads from form 5L have infiltrated the form 5W photo, this is the kind of thing that happens when you let a school boy take class pictures.

 

Unofficial 5th form class photo 5L Friday 21st April 1978 12.00am

For some reason Cowley Boys school did not arrange class photos during the time I was there. This however was the period of punk and we did not need no official photographer to get the job done.

Form 5L, In one of the frames I’m holding my arm out to steady myself after running from setting the self timer on the Zenith E camera mounted on a tripod.

Read moreUnofficial 5th form class photo 5L Friday 21st April 1978 12.00am

Being. On a bus.

An early (and rare for me) colour image taken as a school boy in the 1970s, likely on the way to school. I term shots like this as “quiet” a silent visual meditation. My commercial images shouted very loudly for a short time but they dated quickly, the quiet images last forever.

Haydock races

Haydock Park, horse race in progress. Early 1980s shot on Kodachrome 25.

Im not a gambler but I knew it was worthwhile taking a few frames of the scene behind me on the stands, far more interesting than the horse race.

Photographing a horse race does not need to show horses, a valuable lesson.

 

An Autumn morning

Victoria Park. Taken on the way to Cowley Boys School in the mid to late 1970s. Lubitel 2 camera, 6×6 FP4 negative film.

I used to live in a street near this park but the family moved to Haydock some miles away. A bus journey to St.Helens and then a walk from the Centre to the school. I tried to vary the route of the walk every day but often took a detour to walk through the park again. I have a deep love for the park.

Having a laugh

Cowley Boys School, 1978-9. Sitting with some friends on the field on sportsday. In an ideal world we would be watching the events and joining in but this was not that.